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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

FATHER AND SONS                           45

:hat this half-civilised remote village should have produced two major
poets, a famous queen, and another famous woman in history. As is
generally the custom with mountaineers, the men and women carried
their loads in a barrel or basket swung on their backs; but it was
mostly the women who did the carrying. This was tiring for their
muscles, but, as we know, was always good for their figures. The un-
married girls distinguished themselves by wearing a high coiffure in
two joined buns, decorated with as many as six silver pins sticking out
on both sides and a large ivory comb, the size of one's palm, at the
back.

But the travellers had passed only two of the gorges, and. the worst
was yet to come. About thirty years before, there had been a land-
slide which threw sharp-edged rocks into the middle of the stream,
and made it impossible for navigation. River traffic had been stopped
at this point for about twenty years until a narrow passage had been
opened. This place was, therefore, called "the New Rapids". At this
point Su Tungpo and his family were held up for three days by a snow
storm.                                                                               i

Lying huddled in the night, I slept like a frozen turtle,
But I was the first to know that it was snowing outside.
In the morning I discovered a vast expanse of white,
And the cold wind was shaking the tree-tops.
The green hills were like a youth transformed,
Overnight covered with white hair and whiskers.
The atmosphere of warmth had descended to the river,
And the gurgle of the stream had been silenced on the bank.
Up in the air the flakes fluttered without choice of direction.
And down they came and spread and disappeared
Over the wide river and the empty wastes.
But entering the boat their fluffy footsteps were light;
Like engraved flowers they rested on one's clothing.
Could it be that God had carved these one by one?
Extravagantly these were broadcast and filled the valley;
Alas! Who held this mighty power in his hands? . . .

I see the mountaineers carrying their load of fuel;

They would not know of the pleasure of warm wine and

song. ...

The poet's frozen brush is hard and ready to break,
And the peasant girl is weaving at night uncurtained.
A recluse is treading in the icy cold in his sandals,
And the wind blowing at his hood makes him look like one

of God.